Since the pandemic, more and more employees who work in open spaces are demanding access to private workplaces. Between concentration difficulties and rehearsal interruptions that affect co-workers’ productivity, it may seem like collaborative office spaces are done with their days.
Before Covid-19, open space offices were crowded. For example, Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park prides itself on being the “largest in the world.” The obsession with these types of desks, which peaked perhaps a decade ago, was based on what would be called the “collaboration bias”—the unexpected assumption that social encounter improvisations are more effective for business, creativity, and productivity than uninterrupted “deep work.” More recently. , a series of studies shed new light on the disaster that open spaces have become and on the importance of private spaces, wherever they may be.
A report titled Remote and Hybrid Working by Myers-Briggs, publisher of a psychological assessment tool (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), reveals that employees who work in an open space are less happy than workers in a private office. The study also reveals that the rules and policies in place at these locations have a negative impact on employees and lead to significant turnover. Another survey, from recruitment firm Robert Huff this time, showed that more than a third (35%) of respondents said they were more productive when they worked from home, because they weren’t distracted by their colleagues. Similarly, 43% of open-plan employees say they work better in a separate office.
According to a survey conducted by Framery, a manufacturer of soundproof boxes for companies, aversion to coworking spaces is higher today than before the pandemic. About 41% of respondents said that since then their ability to concentrate in open space has significantly decreased.
Give choice to attract and retain employees
There are three common points to note between employees in a private office and their counterparts who work from home: They all enjoy individual space, which will make them happier and more productive. So, a question arises: To what extent is the employee’s desire to work from home ultimately a personal office or at least a place where colleagues’ interruptions are controlled? After all, working from home isn’t for everyone. If, objectively, it saves time, increases flexibility, strengthens autonomy, saves money, it also reduces social contact with workers, limits the available work tools as well as the availability of technical support. The reality is that some people love working remotely, others hate it, and many are torn between these two feelings.
In the midst of great layoffs and companies scrambling to close the hiring and skills gap — and scrambling to retain workers — it seems that breaking open spaces and building private offices is an overlooked solution. However, it can serve as an argument for attracting and retaining employees. Of course, constraints (budgetary and others) vary from one company to another, as do missions, work methods and management methods. But it turns out, the best policy for increasing employee satisfaction and productivity is relatively simple: give choice. Those who want to work remotely are free to do so, and employees who prefer to come into the office have the possibility to enjoy a private space. Finally, the latest fashionable trend, flex office combined with telecommuting: open space but without a fixed space.